Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

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Showtimer
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Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby Showtimer » Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 pm

Ok So follow my argument and let me know if this makes sense this is gonna be reminiscent of a logic and Reasoning question...

So in at fordham with 15k a year....In at Cornell with no money. Cornell Places 41% of their class at NLJ Top 250 (which it did in 09) and Fordham places 30%(which it did in 09). Considering I squeeked into Cornell at/below their median numbers (Lets say 50 percentile) but I stormed into Fordham (30% of Fordham students get scholarships says http://fordham.lawschoolnumbers.com/, I think less than half of those who recieve scholarships recieve 15K or more. So lets say for argument sake im in teh 80th percentile just based off my walking in numbers (which are suppossedly supposed to be a fair representation of how you do in law school according to LSAC and the schools themselves). If I dont underperform those numbers by more than 10 percentile points I get one of those big law jobs since 30% of the class lands them.

Now the Cornell side. 41% of their graduates got the big law jobs. But I am only at their 50% mark for GPA and LSAT. Therefore, I would have to outperform my entering numbers and make up ground against other competative Cornell students with higher numbers to move from 50% to 41%.

Obviously this way of looking at it only counts if these percentiles stay the same for 2010, but lets assume soley for arguments sake they do....Doesnt it make more sense to go somewhere where you only need to avoid underperformance to get teh jbo you want rather than outperform your starting numbers for the same job? There is also the issue of portability (on Cornell's behalf) and 45k plus a cheaper tuition overall (on Fordhams), buyt aside from that what do you think of this reasoning am I missing something? Is law schools success really that unpredicatable that i shoudlnt be thinking like this?

MJMD
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby MJMD » Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:55 pm

That seems like a remarkably frank and logical assessment! Your reasoning is quite sound, and it appears as though Fordham would be the better choice for you.

Just remember to take all other factors into consideration: class size (316 vs. 200), quality of life, facilities and amenities, expenses in Manhattan vs. Ithaca, etc. Some people who don't take these other factors into account are going to flame out at both schools, regardless of having seemingly "more competitive" numbers.

There's no guarantee that your performance during your undergrad and on the LSAT is going to be indicative of how you'll do at law school, and that goes for all the people you're going to be up against: you could fall below it or greatly surpass it. But by your own estimation, even if you do fall below your past performance while at Fordham you still have considerable leeway, whereas at Cornell there would be no room for error. That's actually a very wise way of assessing your chances, and I'm really impressed by it!

theantiscalia
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby theantiscalia » Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:56 pm

I figured I'd add my two cents.

People on TLS seem to frequently think that, for getting into Big Law, there is this invisible barrier; if you go outside of the T14, you're not likely to get into Big Law, and if you go to inside the T14, you have a decent shot.

Realistically, though, there isn't a barrier, but more of a sliding scale, as your post suggests. The further you get from the top schools, the higher ranked you'd have to be in your class to get into Big Law. (As my friend, an HR professional at an NLJ250 firm, put it, "You can be in top half at Yale, top 25% at WUSTL, or top 10% at Missouri. Then we'll look at your resume.") I think your logic is actually quite good... you probably do have a better shot of being a top student at Fordham (according to LSAC data)... so I think you'd be fine either way.

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ggocat
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby ggocat » Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:57 pm

You have two good options; I'm not sure one is correct/right, but I assume most people will say Cornell. I respond to comment on your decision and to supply you with some additional sources/data.

Showtimer wrote:30% of Fordham students get scholarships says http://fordham.lawschoolnumbers.com/, I think less than half of those who recieve scholarships recieve 15K or more.

Here is a link to the most recent official data from ABA regarding Fordham scholarships: http://officialguide.lsac.org/SearchRes ... BA2259.pdf


Showtimer wrote:So lets say for argument sake im in teh 80th percentile just based off my walking in numbers (which are suppossedly supposed to be a fair representation of how you do in law school according to LSAC and the schools themselves). If I dont underperform those numbers by more than 10 percentile points I get one of those big law jobs since 30% of the class lands them.

The video that's been floating around on TLS lately regarding LSAT and affirmative action suggests that LSAT (and I think GPA combined) accounts for roughly 12% of how an applicant will perform in law school. So it's still difficult to judge how well you will do once in law school. Nonetheless, you will have a slight edge.

Showtimer wrote:Is law schools success really that unpredicatable that i shoudlnt be thinking like this?

Given that LSAT/GPA correlates with 1L grades, you are not crazy for thinking the way you do. See http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... hbxlogin=1 (suggesting some students should go to lower ranked schools to save money, and noting that students at higher ranked schools generally face a more competitive student body based on incoming LSAT/GPA).

But generally, I think grades can be unpredictable. So I wouldn't bank on being in any particular percentile. That's one of the reasons people attend higher ranked schools (so they can do worse in school and still have better/same employment prospects).

keg411
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby keg411 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:58 pm

You're numbers aren't necessarily predictive of where you will fall in the class and I wouldn't rely on that at all! (Case in point, sister had bottom 25% LSAT at her T14 and is finishing Top 3rd). Plus, you need to rank much much higher at Fordham to get a better paying job. Believe me, from people I've spoken to the numbers are much further apart than that.

Also, keep in mind COL in NYC >>>>>>>>>> COL in Ithaca. So much so that it may eat up Fordham's $45k advantage. Think paying $350/month for an apartment in Ithaca vs. over $1,000/month for an apartment in NYC.

Showtimer
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby Showtimer » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:07 pm

[/quote]But generally, I think grades can be unpredictable. So I wouldn't bank on being in any particular percentile. That's one of the reasons people attend higher ranked schools (so they can do worse in school and still have better/same employment prospects).[/quote]

I feel the counter to what I'm saying is "grades are unpredictable". But If you claim that then its STILL safer in fordham because they are gonna be unpredicatable anywhere you go...its a safer bet to start out in teh 80% if they are unpredictable rather than start at the 50% if they are unpredictable...any response to that?

Showtimer
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby Showtimer » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:10 pm

keg411 wrote:You're numbers aren't necessarily predictive of where you will fall in the class and I wouldn't rely on that at all! (Case in point, sister had bottom 25% LSAT at her T14 and is finishing Top 3rd). Plus, you need to rank much much higher at Fordham to get a better paying job. Believe me, from people I've spoken to the numbers are much further apart than that.

Also, keep in mind COL in NYC >>>>>>>>>> COL in Ithaca. So much so that it may eat up Fordham's $45k advantage. Think paying $350/month for an apartment in Ithaca vs. over $1,000/month for an apartment in NYC.


What I just said...If numbers arnt predictive of grades in schools then isnt it safer to start off at a higher ercentage. Theres a 20 percentage point difference between falling 10% at Fordham and rising 10% at Cornell to get that same job. but cornells Big law placement isnt 20% higher than Cornell... If i were a gambling man Id say this: If LSAT scare and GPa predict...FOrdham is teh safer bet im top 80%....If they dont predict Fordham is teh safe bet... I have a cusion I can fall from....Any more counters?

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scribelaw
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby scribelaw » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:15 pm

I don't think you can model how you're going to do based on where you fall in a school's LSAT/GPA spectrum. IIRC, the median LSAT at Cornell is one point higher than at Fordham -- one bubble on a single test.

Either way, you're going to be surrounded by and competing against bright, hardworking people. You'll either do well or you won't, but it won't be because you gamed the competition by cleverly going to a school where you believe you're in the 80th percentile. Go to the school that 1) offers the best job prospects 2) makes the most financial sense and 3) you think you'd enjoy going to.

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98234872348
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby 98234872348 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:16 pm

Showtimer wrote:I feel the counter to what I'm saying is "grades are unpredictable". But If you claim that then its STILL safer in Fordham because they are gonna be unpredictable anywhere you go...its a safer bet to start out in the 80% if they are unpredictable rather than start at the 50% if they are unpredictable...any response to that?

You should, at the very least (considering that LS grades can be arbitrary and depend on wide variety of variables), be comfortable finishing at median at any school you attend.

Median at Cornell is going to have better opportunities than median at Fordham.

While that shouldn't be your only calculus in choosing a law school, since there are studies correlating better lsat performance to better law school performance, it is certainly a better metric to base your decision off of than speculating about finishing in the top x%.

Mr. Pablo
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby Mr. Pablo » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:25 pm

scribelaw wrote:I don't think you can model how you're going to do based on where you fall in a school's LSAT/GPA spectrum. IIRC, the median LSAT at Cornell is one point higher than at Fordham -- one bubble on a single test.

Either way, you're going to be surrounded by and competing against bright, hardworking people. You'll either do well or you won't, but it won't be because you gamed the competition by cleverly going to a school where you believe you're in the 80th percentile. Go to the school that 1) offers the best job prospects 2) makes the most financial sense and 3) you think you'd enjoy going to.

I think this is the way to think about it. I think you may be overestimating the gap in abilities between Cornell students and Fordham students. And as someone mentioned above, the predictability of your LSAT/UGPA is actually fairly low (I recall it being 20%, I know this is high for things like tests, but in absolute terms there is another 80% of 'stuff' to account for), it may be the best predictor but is by no means conclusive. You should really pick the school that you think you will be happiest at in terms of the living environment, facilities, etc... .

MJMD
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby MJMD » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:32 pm

I'm in Canada, where law schools tend to be smaller. I would have a hard time choosing to attend a law school with more than 200 students, especially in New York City, where the sheer variety of extra-curricular activities available would likely pull the class apart and make it difficult to meet people.

At Cornell, by contrast, you'd be one of 200 people in a smallish town in upstate New York, and it might be a more closely-knit group. Predicting your position among the 316 people in the 1L class at Fordham would probably be much more unpredictable for this reason. At Cornell, it might be easier to gauge how you were doing relative to everyone else, because you would know more of your classmates, and because the people you knew would constitute a much greater percentage of the total class. You could therefore match your level of effort and engagement accordingly, and it would become apparent much earlier on whether or not making the top 41% of the class was an attainable goal. If it wasn't, you could begin making contingency plans sooner, and you would have the consolation of an Ivy League degree when all was said and done.

Also, when you read that 41% of Cornell graduates "got the big law jobs", are you sure that that was the top 41%? What about judicial clerkships? Cornell probably places a higher percentage of their graduating class in clerkships, and those students would be drawn from the very top of the class. What about trust fund kids who want to spend their lives working for non-profits? What about foreign students, e.g.:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajrakitiyabha

What about people who immediately go for their LL.M. and try to get jobs in academia? Cornell probably attracts more of all of these as well. So realistically, as someone who just wants to get a good job at an NLJ Top 250, you actually don't need to be at the very top of your class at Cornell: you would actually have less ambitious career goals than many of your peers there. That would not necessarily be the case at Fordham.

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nealric
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby nealric » Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:06 pm

I think this is a TERRIBLE idea. You will probably pay at least 1/2 that difference in living expenses.

You CAN NOT predict that you will be higher in your class because of LSAT/GPA. The difference in scores isn't enough to be statistically significant for school performance. Keep in mind that the average Fordham student just answered 2-3 (or less) questions correct on the LSAT as compared to the average Fordham student. As weak as the LSAT/law school success correlation is, 2-3 points is going to get you nowhere.

The placement data you referenced likely understates the Cornell advantage because of clerkships and contacts at "better" small firms.

Showtimer
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby Showtimer » Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:35 pm

nealric wrote:I think this is a TERRIBLE idea. You will probably pay at least 1/2 that difference in living expenses.

You CAN NOT predict that you will be higher in your class because of LSAT/GPA. The difference in scores isn't enough to be statistically significant for school performance. Keep in mind that the average Fordham student just answered 2-3 (or less) questions correct on the LSAT as compared to the average Fordham student. As weak as the LSAT/law school success correlation is, 2-3 points is going to get you nowhere.

The placement data you referenced likely understates the Cornell advantage because of clerkships and contacts at "better" small firms.


Yep as other said too, I think i was overestimating the difference in the lsat scores...good call. that was the gap

savagecheater
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby savagecheater » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:17 pm

Cornell.

rando
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby rando » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:31 pm

nealric wrote:I think this is a TERRIBLE idea. You will probably pay at least 1/2 that difference in living expenses.

You CAN NOT predict that you will be higher in your class because of LSAT/GPA. The difference in scores isn't enough to be statistically significant for school performance. Keep in mind that the average Fordham student just answered 2-3 (or less) questions correct on the LSAT as compared to the average Fordham student. As weak as the LSAT/law school success correlation is, 2-3 points is going to get you nowhere.

The placement data you referenced likely understates the Cornell advantage because of clerkships and contacts at "better" small firms.


It took a while, but somebody finally pointed out the elephant in the room. NLJ 250 stats don't mean what you say they do. Not to mention, those stats don't reflect this disaster of an economy because they still encompass the grads who were hired and deferred. The next round of NLJ stats will really show what is what. And from what is being thrown around at the water cooler, firms race to higher ranked schools, rather than raising their standards in each school proportionately. I wouldn't surprised if Cornell widens the gap to Fordham for the hiring year that matters.

reverendt
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby reverendt » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:35 pm

Your logic about underperforming and overperforming at the schools doesn't hold up. There will be very little if any difference between the caliber of your classmates.

rando
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby rando » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:37 pm

reverendt wrote: There will be very little if any difference between the caliber of your classmates.


I'm not sure this is true

Your logic about underperforming and overperforming at the schools doesn't hold up.


But I agree that making this assumption is a stretch based on your scores/scholarship

fortissimo
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby fortissimo » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:50 pm

Showtimer wrote:But generally, I think grades can be unpredictable. So I wouldn't bank on being in any particular percentile. That's one of the reasons people attend higher ranked schools (so they can do worse in school and still have better/same employment prospects).


I feel the counter to what I'm saying is "grades are unpredictable". But If you claim that then its STILL safer in fordham because they are gonna be unpredicatable anywhere you go...its a safer bet to start out in teh 80% if they are unpredictable rather than start at the 50% if they are unpredictable...any response to that?


wtf? "Starting out at the 80%"? It's pretty much a blank slate for law school, unless you are close to 180 (first try) /4.0. A lot of it is about brute hard work, and a bit of luck (type of exam, way professor grades, typing speed, etc.)

Go to Cornell.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby quickquestionthanks » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:56 pm

Not to kick a dead horse...but,

The caliber of student is not the biggest X factor in terms of where you will place in your class. It's how good your are at performing well in law school.

The fact that grades are unpredictable is all the more reason to pick the higher ranked school. Best case scenario, you're at the top of your class (in which case it's better to be at the top of Cornell). Worst case, you're at the bottom (in which case it's better to be at the bottom of Cornell).

Go to Cornell, if only because the degree will travel better, should you end up not being very good at law school and need to look at options outside of NYC.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Turning down a T14? Does this logic hold?

Postby OperaSoprano » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:36 pm

This is an interesting thread. I have several classmates who turned down Cornell for money here. Most of them cited location and quality of life as their reasons for doing so. It would absolutely be a mistake, however, to think you could gauge the difference in your performance at these two schools. I would be an absolute idiot for thinking I could hop a subway over to Brooklyn and destroy their curve, although my numbers were above their medians. I once asked YCRevolution to build me a law school performance predictor, and he said he couldn't do it. That's not because he isn't a genius, it's because the correlation, as others have said, is too low to make this practicable. There are many factors you will have to weigh, but this is not among them.




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